Nothing is more distinctive than the statuesque beauty of an amaryllis bloom. Its tall, slender, hollow stem leads to a gorgeous one-to-four inch blossom. The stem can grow between 18 and 36 inches tall depending on the variety. Because of its height and sturdiness, people in the Victorian age associated it with strength and sturdiness. It is commonly given as a gift for a hard earned achievement. Its Greek name means “to sparkle”. But is it difficult to care for? Learn how to care for an amaryllis including how to plant, grow and force it to rebloom. Also, if you have a furry pet, beware.
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Planting Amaryllis Bulbs
The Amaryllis plant is one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain. The bulb contains the stored energy the plant needs to produce blossoms.
The size of the bulb usually determines how many stems and flowers it will eventually produce. The larger the bulb’s circumference (distance around the widest part of the bulb), the sturdier the stem, the more stems, and the more flowers. A large bulb could produce multiple stems with 4 to 5 blossoms per stem. In addition, the stems will push through every week or two so you will have a longer blooming period.
Smaller bulbs usually produce just one stem with 2 to 3 flowers on each stem. However, if paired with white paperwhites and a pot or two of cyclamen, it will make a beautiful centerpiece.
The bulbs can range in size from 26 to 28 centimeters producing one stem, to 34 to 36 centimeters producing multiple stems. Be sure to choose a firm bulb and one without any signs of mold, decay, or injury.
To learn general information on bulbs, click Flower Bulbs for Spring Beauty.
Choose a heavier pot in order to support the height and weight of the plant. It is a bit top heavy so you may have to use stakes to anchor the blossom.
The pot should only be about an inch to an inch and a half wider than the diameter of the bulb.
It is imperative that the pot have a drainage hole in order to prevent root and bulb rot from developing.
Use a soilless medium (Amazon: Noot Indoor Soilless Potting Mix) when you plant the bulb. A soilless medium consists of equal parts vermiculite and peat moss. Insert the bulb into the medium, tip side up. Gently pat the mix around the bulb leaving 1/3 of the bulb above the mix level. Most bulbs will bloom 6 to 8 weeks after planting, but some may take up to 10 weeks depending on the variety of the plant.
Growing Amaryllis Plants
Place the newly planted bulb in bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid drafts.
Water the plant sparingly until you see 2 inches of growth, then begin to water regularly. To decide when your plant needs watering, stick your finger into the mix. The top one half inch should be dry before watering again. Turn the pot as it grows in order for it to develop a straight stem. It will lean and grow toward the light if not turned periodically.
The blossoms will last for about a week but with each new stem, you will have new flowers. The amaryllis will be on display for a few weeks.
The stems with blossoms last longer if cut and placed in water. They can last up to 2 weeks in a vase. Cut the stems with a sharp knife on an angle and replace the water every 2 to 3 days to prolong its beauty.
There is no need to fertilize an amaryllis bulb while it is growing through these stages. The bulb is like an energizer bunny. It contains all the nutrients it needs to produce a lovely blossom.
How to Rebloom an Amaryllis Plant
Amaryllis plants are easy to save and force to bloom for many years. Follow the directions below to have beautiful blossoms from year to year.
1. Allow your plant to finish blossoming. Wait a couple of weeks after the last stem has bloomed to guarantee there are no new stems pushing through the bulb.
2. Cut the stem of the flower to one inch from the top of the bulb.
3. Move your pot with the bulb and leaves intact to a sunny location.
4. Fertilize the remaining leaves with a liquid indoor houseplant solution throughout the growing season.
5. After the last threat of frost, move your pot outside where it will receive direct sunlight. The sunlight provides the leaves with energy to produce blossoms for the following season. You can opt to leave it inside if it is placed in a window with direct sunlight.
6. In late August or early September you can either cut the leaves off the bulb or withhold water to allow the plant and medium to dry out naturally. Doing so prepares the plant for its dormancy period.
7. Remove the bulb from its pot and mix once the leaves are gone and place it in a cool, dark, area. The basement is ideal for this. Do not water the bulb during this period.
8. Take the bulb out of its dormancy state in late October. Repot the bulb using the directions stated above and place it in a warm, well-lit area.
9. Follow the directions above to enjoy beautiful blossoms the next season. It will take between 6 and 8 weeks for your amaryllis to produce more blossoms.
Our Furry Friends
According to the ASPCA, amaryllis plants are very toxic to both cats and dogs. They contain lycorine and other toxic chemicals that will cause “vomiting (not horses), depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, and tremors.” (ASPCA)
The stem, leaves, and blossoms all contain noxious chemicals, however, the bulb is said to be the most toxic.
If exposed, take your pet immediately to the vet. He or she will probably give it medication to induce vomiting and/or activated charcoal which helps remove toxins from the digestive tract.
Your pet may become dehydrated and require intravenous fluids.
So beware when gifting an amaryllis plant to others and yourself if you or your friends have a dog or cat.
Pests of Amaryllis Plants
Amaryllis plants are usually pest free if grown in the home. However, it may acquire some type of plant infection if your plant is outside. Here is a list of common pests of amaryllis plants.
- Chewing insects such as caterpillars and grasshoppers: Remove them by hand and place them in soapy water.
- Phloem Feeders such as aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites. They feed on the soft tissue of the plant. Remove them with a forceful spray of water.
- Bulb mites are tiny oval creatures related to spiders. They feed on the bulb and the damage may not be evident until it is too late. Be sure not to overwater your bulb or damage it with garden tools. Also, when selecting a bulb, be sure it is mold and fungus free.
- Nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on the roots of the amaryllis plant. You know you have a nematode infestation when you have been properly caring for the plant with the correct amount of water and nutrients yet the plant still looks sickly and yellow. Prevention is the key to not having this type of problem.
I recommend leaving the plant inside to eliminate the possibility of pest infestation. For more information on pests, click HERE.
Through proper planting, growing, and reblooming of your amaryllis plant you will have many years of beauty in your home.
Be aware of the hazard to pets. We want to keep our furry family members as safe as possible.
Pests can infiltrate your lovely plant and damage it, so take proper care when selecting your bulbs and if the flower is transplanted outside.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please share it with others and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays!
12 thoughts on “How to Care for an Amaryllis”
I’m surprised that it is easy to take care of an amaryllis plant. At first sight they look like a lot of work, but now that I’ve read your article it seems easy enough.
I was wondering why there should be about an inch or so between the bulb and the pot? Can I also plant it in a bigger pot where it has more room (so that it can grow larger)?
It’s too bad, though, that they are so toxic to dogs and cats. If you have pets and you absolutely want to have an amaryllis plant it would probably be best to place it somewhere where the dogs and cats can’t reach it.
Thanks so much for the comment. It is best to plant the bulb snuggly in a pot because the roots prefer a snug place. If you plant it in a larger pot it will not “grow” to the size of the pot. The bulb size stays the same. The bulb size also dictates how many stems you will get from the bulb…the smaller, you will only get 1 stem…..larger, you will get more stems. So when you purchase a bulb, try to buy the largest one you can afford to get more stems, hence, blossoms. And yes, it is a shame it is harmful to pets. You’re correct in saying you should place it in a place your furry friend cannot reach it!
I hope this answered your question! If you enjoyed this post, please share it.
I love the way these plants display pride and strength.
We have them in Australia, growing in Central Queensland gardens and are called hippeastrums. I never thought about growing them in pots until I watched the video.
I have seen a wonderful range of colours with variegated yellows, and white in the centre; in addition to a variety of other colours, on the petals that take on a interesting style.
I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, they come in so many colors. I do not see them in the wild here in the United States where I live. They must be beautiful in Australia! I hope you try growing some in pots. Let me know how you make out!
Thanks for the comment.
I love plants so much I have a small garden in our clinic. I have never heard of this plant maybe not available on this side of the world Australia. We do have a limited number of available indoor plants where I live and this would have been a good addition to our place. It sounds to easy to look after. Any tips on looking after indoor plants? I will be checking your website for future references.
Another person from Australia commented that they do have amaryllis in Australia but they are called hippeastrums there. Check out the following posts for information on indoor plants.
Thanks so much for the comment and let me know if the other two posts were helpful!
Wow Nina, what a beautiful flower! For the first time I hear about the Amaryllis plant which is very visually reminiscent of a lily. Lilies are my favorite flowers and now it will become Amaryllis. The bulb is really huge! You explained everything perfectly when it comes to planting and maintenance. I have a little phobia of flowering plants because my lily dried up very quickly after flowering. I probably didn’t know what I know now, so I’ll use these instructions of yours the next time I take a similar flower. I love following you, you’re great just keep it up. Good luck with gardering and happy holidays!
Hi Danijela. Thanks so much for the comment. Not all amaryllis bulbs are as big as the picture. In fact, that bulb would cost you a lot of money! The larger the bulb, the more it costs. I’m glad you learned something from the post. Lilies and amaryllis are very distantly related. A lily has leaves that tier up a stalk where an amaryllis leaf comes from the bulb. Have a wonderful holiday!
I’ve never heard of an amaryllis plant until just now. I have dogs though (Jack Russells) who like to get into everything. I see owning this plant wouldn’t be a wise choice for me. Recently, I’ve been getting into aero gardening. I’m wondering if I could plant an amaryllis in my aero garden? I have some concerns though. Although this is a beautiful plant, how can I be sure bugs won’t come into my house to chew on the plants? I know you said this happens outside, but what about inside my house?
From what I understand about aero gardening, seeds and water are the foundation. An amaryllis is a bulb type flower and I think it would rot in this type of medium (water). I have never heard of growing bulbs in aero gardens, but I may be wrong…I don’t know that much about this type of gardening.
If you purchase the bulb and plant it in your home using the medium I suggested, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with insects. However, since you have Jack Russells you may want to think twice about having this in your home.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Check out this article for more information on indoor plants.
Thanks very much for the comment! Let me know how you make out.
Thanks for these tips for growing an Armyrallis plant. I think that I will try my hand at growing this plant indoors
I notice, from your pictures, that you seem to use 4 or 6 inch planters. You also recommend that the pot itself should only be an inch or an inch and a half wider than the diameter of the bulb. How far down into the soil should you plant such a heavy bulb? Or does the bulb actually sit at the bottom of the pot?
Thanks Ceci for your comment. Because amaryllis plant roots like to be snug in a pot the pot needs to be rather small. Put approximately 1 to 2 inches of medium in the pot first, and then place the bulb on top allowing for the top third of the bulb to protrude above the soil line. The bulb should not be placed at the bottom of the pot. Fill the rest of the pot in with the medium and tap it down firmly. Remember to buy a pot with a drainage hole.
I hope this answered your question. Please leave another comment if this answer does not completely answer your questions.